There's no shying away from the fact that Doom changed the video games industry when it released back in 1993. Doom 2 released soon after, but since then id Software and its various publishing partners have taken the less is more approach to the franchise. It's worked well, as its reputation allows for instant intrigue, as does id Software's experience in pushing technological boundaries. This latest version represents only the fourth main instalment into the franchise, the first in twelve years, and sees the numerical moniker ditched so it can revert back to simply being called Doom.
With each major Doom release, the landscape has changed in significant ways. For the first two, the first-person shooter genre was being defined and both Doom and Doom II were at the forefront of this. Doom 3 arrived in 2004 when the genre was much more established, but it also saw the franchise go down a new route. Not only did it come with some graphical heft, it also ventured into the horror genre, helping to differentiate it from other prominent games releasing around the same time, such as Halo 2, Killzone, Half-Life 2, Far Cry, Battlefield Vietnam, and Unreal Tournament 2004. Looking back, it was one hell of a time for the genre and it only continued to grow from that point.
Call of Duty and Battlefield have since become juggernauts, while games like Destiny have pushed it into new territories. It makes it therefore interesting that Doom has decided to go back to its roots, promising a first-person shooter that features just enough exposition to make things interesting, but has a heavy emphasis on personifying "rock and roll."
It's a move that pays off, as Doom has stellar gameplay and pulsing encounters, all backed up by a heavy metal soundtrack that will blast you away.
For what it's worth, the story, despite being quite minimalistic, slots in rather well with everything else the game has to offer. You take up the role of the Doom Marine tasked with closing a portal to Hell "“ classic stuff. But it works. There's enough of a narrative for you to get the gist of character motivations and there are small pieces of intel along the way that add a bit more substance. The crucial point is there's nothing here that burdens you with unnecessary information. It's very much "here's why this happened, go and do something about it" and in a way, it's quite refreshing.
Each of the classic weapons returns, but there are now modifications that can be switched between and upgraded as you see fit. The shotgun can be turned into a grenade launcher, while the heavy assault rifle can also fire missiles. The most important point, however, is that each of the weapons feels fantastic to shoot.
In reality, there are seven main weapons (with two special weapons) and around ten main enemies. The campaign, for a first-person shooter, also is pretty lengthy. And with no real story to speak of, this combination might sound pretty strange. It doesn't overstay its welcome though and never feels restrictive due to the level design and fast pace.
No two encounters will ever feel the same and it's a testament to the team that they were able to make the game feel fresh throughout despite these restrictions. One of the core factors in this comes with the Glory Kills. When this mechanic was initially announced, I will admit that I had some reservations. It felt like the kind of thing that would get pretty old, pretty quick. But with it being often crucial to survival (you get health back get a small respite), and the fact it's so fast, it remains rewarding throughout. And that's one of the defining points around Doom, the gameplay is very fast-paced. It's a non-stop thrill ride once skirmishes begin. Yet, even with this being a core fundamental, there is still plenty of down time for simple exploration.
Two other aspects that help to strengthen Doom's longevity are the SnapMap and multiplayer. SnapMap gives players the ability to create new maps and encounters for people to enjoy, while the multiplayer transitions the single player experience into a versus arena, but with quite a few extras. You can maraud around as Demons, customise your Doom Marine and also experience some multiplayer-exclusive weapons.
Special mention should also be given to Mick Gordon for his work on the soundtrack. He has very much brought Doom's soundtrack into the modern age. There's a perfect blend of synth and metal and how it morphs with the action that develops and the environments you visit should be commended.
The team at id Software wanted to bring rock and roll to the first-person shooter genre with Doom and they succeeded. What they've created is a pulsing experience that blends top-notch level design with high-end gameplay and a soundtrack that provides the perfect accompaniment. If you're looking for your next first-person shooter fix, you've found it.
|Soundtrack is a stunning piece of work that perfectly supports the game's high octane action.|
|Multiplayer is surprisingly addictive.|
|SnapMap is a nice feature, but it feels a little overshadowed.|
|Power-ups don't always make you feel that powerful.|
|Plenty of multiplayer-only weapons that would have been pretty fun to use in single player.|